After the ice was cleared in Thursday night's Original Program, 18-year-old Holly Cook of Bountiful had managed to hang on to third place in the senior ladies division of the U.S. National Figure Skating Championships.
Cook was in third place following Wednesday's compulsory figures, which count 20 percent toward the final score. As the last skater in the event, Cook had to watch near-perfect performances by first-place finisher Jill Trenary and second-place Tanya Harding.But Cook managed to skate past Kristi Yamaguchi, who finished second for the night and moved from eight to fourth place in the overall standings.
Cook smiled as she took center ice before a crowd of about 10,000 at the Baltimore Arena. She flashed across the ice in a new, sparkling black-and-red outfit to conga music and immediately surprised the crowd with a triple jump followed by a respectable triple-toe combination and some sassy footwork.
Her scores averaged 5.6 for execution of the required elements and 5.6 for presentation.
The audience, which had responded to her performance with cheers and applause, booed the scores, but Cook thought the marks were fair. "I thought I skated well, but I could have had a little more height on my jumps. So 5.6s are OK."
Her coach, Kris Sherard, was happy with Cook's performance. "Her spins could have been faster, but the double axel and triple-combination jump went as we wanted."
The main event is Saturday, when the women go blade to blade in the free-skating (long program or freestyle) competition.
With Yamaguchi at her heels and the two skaters in front of her planning to do five triple jumps in their routines, Cook needs another flawless performance to finish in the top three.
ABC-TV will televise the ladies finals on Wide World of Sports beginning at 3:30 p.m. MST Saturday.
Another Utah skier, 18-year-old Kenna Bailey, Centerville, and her partner, John Denton, Bridgewater, Mass., are in fifth place after the Original Program. The pairs competition appears to be wide open, leaving Bailey and Denton a chance to crack the top three.
ABC plans to tape Friday's pairs competition for possible airing during Saturday's TV coverage.
Two Bountiful junior high students made their debuts at this year's championships. Fourteen-year-old Shannon Smith of Salt Lake City finished seventh in the novice ladies division after placing first in compulsory figures and 11th in free skating.
Fourteen-year-old Clay Sniteman ended up fourth, finishing first in compulsory figures in the men's novice division and 8th in free skating.
Sniteman is the first Utah boy to ever make it to the U.S. Nationals.